Steve Heitzeg (born October 15, 1959) is an American composer, whose works include compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, ballet, and film. His works often feature naturally-found instruments, such as stones, birch bark wind chimes, and sea glass shards to create music in celebration of the natural world.
Heitzeg was born and raised on a dairy farm in southern Minnesota by Louie and Barbara Heitzeg of Kiester. Heitzeg graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1982 and received his PhD in music theory/composition from the University of Minnesota in 1986, studying with Dominick Argento.
Heitzeg first attracted attention for his score, A Marriage: Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz (starring Jane Alexander), in 1991 and for the award-winning children’s video, On the Day You Were Born, released by the Minnesota Orchestra in 1996. Heitzeg’s debut recording, Earthworks: music in honor of nature, was released two years later in April 1998.
Named Composer of the Year at the 2000 Minnesota Music Awards, Heitzeg has amassed a large body of compositions that address social and environmental issues with vision and compassion in such works as Aqua (Hommage à Jacques-Yves Cousteau), Blessed Are the Peacemakers, Blue Liberty, Elegy on Water, Endangered, Nobel Symphony, Symphony to the Prairie Farm, Voice of the Everglades (Epitaph for Marjory Stoneman Douglas) and Wounded Fields. In 2000 he also received a regional Emmy for his original score for the public TV documentary Death of the Dream: Farmhouses in the Heartland.
Heitzeg was awarded a McKnight Fellowship in 2001 and has received grants from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and the Jerome Foundation. In addition to concert and film music, Heitzeg composes ecoscores (intimate works with inventive musical syntax) that seek to honor nature and promote peace. Two of these works, Peace March for Paul and Sheila Wellstone and American Symphony (Unfinished), are in the permanent collection of Minneapolis’ Weisman Art Museum.
Two recent works funded through a 2005 Archibald Bush Artist Fellowship, include Social Movements, a ballet premiered by the James Sewell Ballet in 2008, and Song Without Borders, a four movement string quartet premiered in 2008 by the Daedalus Quartet at the United Nations’ New York headquarters. Four months later, the work was performed by the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra String Quartet in Baghdad.
Heitzeg’s music has been commissioned or performed by the Atlanta Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Chanticleer, Daedalus Quartet, Dale Warland Singers, Detroit Symphony, James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, members of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and VocalEssence, among others. Marin Alsop, Philip Brunelle, William Eddins, JoAnn Falletta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Jahja Ling, Christopher Seaman, Osmo Vänskä and Dale Warland are among the conductors who have led his works.
Heitzeg lives in Saint Paul with his wife, daughter and their Weimaraner.
- "Steve Heitzeg Biography." Steve Heitzeg. 2009. http://www.steveheitzeg.com/bio.html
- "Steve Heitzeg." Stone Circle Music. Print.
- Complete Works
- The Collection of Steve Heitzeg is available for research use at the Gustavus Adolphus College and Lutheran Church Archives.